I heard of TLC’s new show “Big Sexy” via word of mouth before I actually saw it being promoted. A few of my friends asked me what I thought about it, and being a “big sexy” myself, I decided I had to check it out.
The show follows “Five Fabulous and Fierce Fashion Divas” living their lives in New York City. The episode I watched tonight was about a singles party. Here are my initial thoughts (I’ll be tuning in later tonight, too – but these are my thoughts after watching the show for the first time.)
- These chicks ARE actually big. So often in mass media, representatives of “plus size” are barely topping a size 10 and look just like your average sister, mom, cousin or girlfriend. Plus-sized means PLUS SIZED, aka, having to buy clothes from the ‘fat lady’ department. I like that these girls have “plus sized street cred”, if that makes sense, and they’re not the usual skinny girls with cellulite moaning about their fat thighs. Kudos to TLC on casting accurate body types for a show that’s about, well, big bodies.
- Some of the typical comments from the brilliant citizens of the internet about this show are that it’s “promoting and celebrating the lifestyle of the obese”. I’m obese – and do I celebrate my life? Hell yes, I celebrate my life – I celebrate every breath I breathe, every rose that blooms in my garden, every day that I wake up next to my sweet husband. Life is something to be celebrated. I’m not going to mourn because I have fifty pounds to lose. Like my figure, my life is FULL. There’s a difference between celebrating obesity and celebrating life. These girls are proud of who they are. They have work to do to be healthy, and they acknowledge it – but they’re confident, happy and successful at the same time. I know this goes against mass media’s typical representation of the fat kid, but it’s time to progress. Lots of fat people are miserable, but lots of fat people are happy, too. One size does not fit all. It’s 2011. Celebrating life is a sign of gratitude, wisdom and knowledge – not celebrating the fact that you binged on cupcakes and can’t button your jeans.
- TV is still up to its usual tricks. In one scene, the girl aspiring to be a plus sized model is shown boxing at the gym, and then it cuts to her working out on the treadmill. The camera zoomed in at least three times on her ample bottom. I don’t know if TLC zoomed in on her ass to be like “Hey male viewers! Look at this booty!” or to be like “Hey viewers! Here’s a big fat ass! We’re going to zoom in on it to make you worry if your ass looks big!” Regardless of the intent, it felt gratuitous and degrading, no matter the size of the ass. Women fight a battle EVERY DAY to be seen as equals and don’t tell me it doesn’t happen, because I see it happen on a daily basis. Zooming in on asses, cleavage and tummy rolls only further perpetuates the idea that we are THINGS, things that are made to be owned, prodded and analyzed. Size 20 or Size 2 – We are people. Leave the ass shots to Jersey Shore.
- While I admire the fact that there is a show purely for larger women, I sometimes wish TV could just integrate and that so called “Reality television” could actually be realistic. I don’t choose friends based on their weight, so it seems weird to me that shows are always “segmented” by body type or appearance (think Real World, Jersey Shore, The Hills, etc). Does TV need to be so US and THEM? America’s Next Top Model integrates plus sized models among the regular sized models, and I always thought that was a refreshing change. TLC’s “Big Bliss” is another example of plus-sized programming. It’s great to have diversity, but I hope for the future that media will not always be so categorized. The reality is that big fat people mingle with little skinny people in real life – so reality television should follow suit. If we’re representing the mass – make sure it looks mass.